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Why the Soviet authorities killed the author of the legendary "Shchedryk" and who prophesied an early death for Mykola Leontovych

Mykola Leontovych was killed by the Chekists because of his love for Ukraine

Mykola Leontovych, a Ukrainian composer and author of the legendary carol "Shchedryk," lived a short life. The Soviet government was responsible for his death, as well as the deaths of thousands of other cultural figures. The composer paid  for his love of Ukraine with his life.

There is a legend that it was his student who predicted the composer's early death. Mykola Leontovych's life researchers, Honored Artist of Ukraine Anatolii Zavalniuk and Olha Prokopenko, director of the Mykola Leontovich Museum in the village of Markivka, Vinnytsia region, told Suspilne about this.

Researcher Olha Prokopenko said that during a visit to her father's native village, he stayed for several days with his student Nadiia Tanashevych, where she predicted a short life for him.

"Her mother was a fortune teller. And he jokingly said,  "Mrs. Truth, tell me a fortune." So she looked at his palm and said, 'You have a very long life line. And at that moment Nadiia came over and said, "Mother, you're not telling the truth, the life line is almost over. To which Mykola said, "If some bandit will approach me and want to kill me, I will tell them that you predicted me many years of life,'" Olha Prokopenko says.

Why the Soviet authorities killed the author of the legendary ''Shchedryk'' and who prophesied an early death for Mykola Leontovych

It was not a bandit who killed the composer but an agent of the All-Russian Emergency Commission, Afanasy Grishchenko. On January 23, 1921, he and his brother Fedor Grabchak asked Leontovych to spend the night, and he let them in. That night, the composer was killed by representatives of the county underground Bolshevik organization.

Afanasy identified himself as a "Chekist fighting banditry." In the morning, he and a fellow soldier robbed the house and shot the composer. Leontovych did not live to see his international recognition for several months.

Why the Soviet authorities killed the author of the legendary ''Shchedryk'' and who prophesied an early death for Mykola Leontovych

"He was killed because he was a very deeply national composer and through his work he urged people to love their national art. Such people could have become very bright and "dangerous" nationalists. Many other composers were also killed by these Bolshevik people who did not want Ukrainian national culture to flourish in the state," Anatolii Zavalniuk said.

There is another version of the reason for Leontovych's murder. One of the motives could also be that the composer was a member of the synod of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church. After all, he wrote a lot of sacred music and was highly regarded in religious circles. As far as we know from the history of Ukraine, the Soviet government banned any religion, so this could also have been the reason for Leontovych's murder.

Why the Soviet authorities killed the author of the legendary ''Shchedryk'' and who prophesied an early death for Mykola Leontovych

A few months after Mykola Leontovych's death, "Shchedryk" was performed on the American stage in New York, and the song is now known around the world as "Carol of the Bells." 

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